5 Swallowing Exercises To Ease Symptoms Of Dysphagia

Dysphagia can cause problems while swallowing food, here are some exercises that can ease symptoms of this disorder.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalUpdated at: Jan 30, 2022 09:00 IST
5 Swallowing Exercises To Ease Symptoms Of Dysphagia

Eating and consuming food is a very natural process. Swallowing usually does not need and effort and hence most of us do not even think about it. However the process is quite complex like most of other body functions that might be affected by some kind of disorder. Having trouble in swallowing food refers to the condition of dysphagia. This happens when the nerve or muscle response does not function according to desired action. Hence this problem can cause pain while swallowing food and saliva. Here are some exercises for dysphagia which you can practise at home to ease swallowing process. 

5 Swallowing Exercises To Ease Dysphagia

Here are some medically recommended exercises for dysphagia that you can do at home-

1. Shaker Exercise

This is a very simple exercise unlike its name. Shaker exercise is meant to strengthen muscles and improve the swallowing ability of the person. It focuses on the neck muscles and tissues performing the process that allows relieving pain of dysphagia and having better health. 


To do this exercise-

  • First lay on the floor flat with your head fixed at a position
  • Ensure that your hands are beside you body
  • Now raise your head up to gaze at your toes
  • Stay in this position for 5-10 seconds without shaking
  • Do not raise your shoulders while doing this exercise

Now get back to initial position and repeat this exercise 6 times in a day, try to increase the lift of head after some repetitions.

2. Hyoid Lift Manoeuvre

This is an interesting exercise which is helpful in swallowing and building muscle strength. Hyoid lift manoeuvre also aids in getting your control better while swallowing food and saliva. This is not a traditional exercise but an activity based exercise which helps the person to get through dysphagia. 

In this exercise, first a small piece of paper is places over a blanket or towel. Then you get a piece of straw in your mouth and try to suck the paper back to its tip. You need to keep sucking the straw to keep the paper attached. Slowly bring it to a bowl or container where you can drop it. Do this same exercise with 5-10 pieces of paper each day to improve condition of dysphagia.

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3. Mendelsohn Manoeuvre

It is a basic exercise to improve swallowing reflex of the person. This majorly involves swallowing your saliva multiple times. Mendelsohn manoeuvre is when you try to keep your Adam’s apple elevated for a particular period of time. It reduces dysphagia pain and improves control over your swallowing process. In general condition you bring saliva to the mouth from just behind the swallowing area which moves up and then down.


In this exercise you need to control this cycle. First breathe a long breath and now focus on your throat. While trying to get your saliva into your mouth, keep the Adam’s apple elevated for 3-5 seconds. Hold onto it and support it by using your fingers. Now gradually release it and let the saliva flow going. Repeat this exercise until you are able to stop the Adam’s apple in the elevated condition without any external support.

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4. Effortful Swallow

This is a process in which you put an effort to swallow. It may sound weird but it works in the favour of your treatment process of dysphagia. The purpose of effortful swallow exercise is to improve the contraction and relaxation process by focussing on different muscles involved in the process of swallowing. 

To do this exercise-

  • Sit in a straight comfortable position 
  • Think about some food which you would like to eat
  • Now as you imagine it going in your mouth, try to squeeze in your muscles as you are trying to swallow that thing
  • Keep it focuses so that the contraction does not loosen up, hold it for 5-10 seconds
  • Now dry swallow your saliva, do this around 10 times in a day to strengthen your muscles.


5. Supraglottic Swallow

This exercise is also meant to have better control over your swallowing process. Supraglottic swallow is a food based exercise, but it can be done without food in the initial process so that you becomes used to the process. Without food is better because sometimes food can get stuck in your throat and you don’t want that especially with condition like dysphagia. 

To do this exercise-

  • First take a deep breath and relax yourself
  • Now take another breath and hold your breath
  • While holding your breath, you need to swallow your saliva
  • After doing so, cough to clear up any residue of food or saliva left in the throat and let it go down your oesophagus.

Once you are familiar with the exercise process, you can practise with having food in your mouth too. This exercise also prevents dysphagia from occurring. You can add another twist to it, while taking deep breath, bear down while swallowing to exert more pressure on your throat muscles.

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